LEADOFF: Braves making a pitch for All-Star Game at SunTrust Park


Good morning. This is LEADOFF, the early buzz in Atlanta sports.

The Braves are officially bidding to bring Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game to SunTrust Park. 

The event already is committed to Washington and Cleveland the next two years, but MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has said sites for the 2020, 2021 and 2022 games might be announced simultaneously.

The Braves want one of those games in their new stadium. 

“Derek (Schiller, the Braves’ president of business) has been very active in leading his group to put the bidding process together,” Braves Chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk said. “We’ve been active in town. We’ve been active politically inside baseball among the ownership group. And we’re constant at it. 

“There’s no schedule as to when these things are going to be announced or how many teams are in the running, but it’s a highly competitive situation. But I think we’re looking real good.” 

Schiller said the Braves are “beginning the official process for soliciting the All-Star Game,” but McGuirk made it clear the effort is not new. 

“(It’s) beginning in that we’re now in the official documentation and the hundreds of pages of documents that go behind it,” McGuirk said. “The actual lobbying and discussion and showing our very strong interest has been going on for several years. We’ve planted our flag hard for Atlanta that we want the All-Star Game.” 

McGuirk said the Braves have targeted two years, seeking to land one of them. Asked if the targeted years are 2020 and 2021, Schiller said the team is “not at liberty to talk about it.”

Baseball’s All-Star Game has been played in Atlanta twice – in 1972 at Atlanta Stadium (later renamed Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium) and in 2000 at Turner Field. 

The mid-summer game has grown in recent years to include many ancillary events, increasing MLB’s requirements for hosting it. Bids are competitively evaluated with availability of key venues, such as convention centers, among the factors. 

The Braves’ pitch includes facilities and hotels in Atlanta, as well as around Cobb County’s SunTrust Park and The Battery, Schiller said.

New stadiums tend to attract big events. Before the Braves, six MLB teams had opened stadiums since 2006, and five of those already have been awarded All-Star games: Miami’s Marlins Park (opened in 2012, hosted All-Star Game this year); the Minnesota Twins’ Target Field (opened in 2010, hosted in 2014), the New York Mets’ Citi Field (opened in 2009, hosted in 2013); Washington’s Nationals Park (opened in 2008, will host in 2018) and the St. Louis Cardinals’ Busch Stadium (opened in 2006, hosted in 2009).

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The Braves enter their final home series of the season this weekend on pace to draw about 500,000 more fans in their first year at SunTrust Park than in their final year at Turner Field. See story here.

Five months and 10 days after the Braves played their first regular-season game at SunTrust Park, the stadium’s rookie season will conclude Sunday afternoon. The pageantry of opening the new Cobb County stadium April 14 evolved into the summer-long rhythm of a baseball season.   See story here.

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